your friendly, neighborhood predators

Wendy S. Delmater
By Wendy S. Delmater on Fri, Jul 20, 2012 - 8:54pm

Our sustainable garden is organic.  We don't use chemicals--pesticides or fertilizers--but we get by with a little help from out friends. We have five-lined skinks, various insectivore birds, black racer snakes to eat rodents, geckos, dragonflies, wasps, spiders, toads, tiny tree frogs, ladybugs, praying mantises. They are my gardening assistants, my helpers. 

It's so alive out there. But I've learned to wear gardening  gloves and closed-toe shoes and long pants when I am working in the garden. I've never been bitten or stung by anything larger than fire ants, but I have to assume I am disturbing something's hunting grounds when I weed or harvest. Any friendly predator sightings out in your garden?

Oh - and our most recent resident? The big, female black and yellow garden spider  that lurks (rather visibly) in the lima bean patch.

Black and Yellow Garden Spider, Argiope aurantia,
also known as the writing spider due to the heavy white zigzag pattern in the center of its web.

I hate spiders, as a rule, but this one is so pretty I react to it more like a butterfly. They're harmless to humans. And the bugs? They don't stand a chance.


joemanc's picture
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Slightly off-topic, but related - Spiders are great sight to see around my garden, and also around the house. They spin up their webs around my windows/doors and collect ants and other bugs that may have snuck in through the window seals. While it's a bit unsightly in the summer, I let them spin their magic, before tearing down their webs in the fall.

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Night predators, but not in our garden

We don't have a garden, yet.  But we do have some great night time predators keeping our house bug free?  We have relatively few bugs in our house and I think it may be because we have quite a few wolf spiders and other nocturnal hunters. laugh

First up: Vinegaroons - harmless to people.  These are fairly rare to see, but I've come across several this week. They will act very aggressive and try to grab you with the pinchers when trying to scoop them up to haul them outside.  If you really agitate them they can squirt vinegar at you, hence the name.  This one is on the small side, I've seen them at least twice as big. surprise

And a different view - would hate to be a bug looking at this coming towards me:

Next up, scorpion.  I worry I will step on one of them when I'm barefoot one of these days, but it hasn't happened yet.  I understand they hurt, but aren't much worse than a bee sting - I generally haul several a week outside during the summer.

Then we have wind scorpions - also harmless, but they will run at you with their pinchers up - an interesting defense tactic, and they are very fast. This one is about 1" long, the biggest i've seen was about twice that size. I generally just leave them alone to hunt at night.  Every once in a while I pick up something and find them or a scorpion hidding.  They can use the front legs to climb walls and often are found hiding under ledges.

Then we have toads.  He is about 5" across.  This evening I found a toad and a vinegaroon next to each other.  I think the toad was thinking dinner!  Since I like both of them to keep eating other things I separated them.

Hope you enjoyed the little journey through our menagerie of desert predators. I'm sure they will be useful when I get the garden going.....

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